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The Numbers in Pet Ownership

Allergies aside, one of the best parts about living in the South is undoubtedly the milder weather year-round.

Not just a boon for gardeners, the warmer temperatures are perfect for a trail run or a leisurely walk around town, especially when joined by friends of the four-legged variety.

But if don’t have a pet yet and you have been staring longingly at the dogs you see going past your home on those cool but pleasant evenings, you may want to consider the following facts and figures before you commit.

According to a popular article on the ASPCA website, in its first year alone, a dog will cost you anywhere between $1,300 and $1,800, depending on its size, including food, medical expenses, and the necessary supplies. Over the lifetime of your pup (about 14 years for some breeds), you spend $6,000 to $8,000.

If you’re more of a cat person, know that cats costs roughly $1,000 in their first year, with $670 spent each year after that (up to 16 years for some).

But, as 68% of pet-owning households in the United States would agree, the benefits of having either a cat or dog (or really any pet you like) are far greater than the monetary sacrifice.

Owning a pet has been proven to:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lessen anxiety
  • Improve mood
  • Promote fitness (especially with dogs)
  • Boost immunity

Even the government, through the National Institute for Health, exhorted the positive impact of the human-animal bond.

Pets then, like a gym membership or a car, are a boon to be budgeted for. If you have children, consider encouraging them to open a savings account to learn about the responsibility and sacrifice that owning a pet entails.

Second, be sure to educate yourself about the different breeds out there. Dog-lovers can use the American Kennel Club, cat-lovers have the Animal Planet’s Cat Breed Directory.

Finally, take advantage of local resources and animal shelters. Most have websites through which you can browse available animals, or you can use national sites like or

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